Canning Tomatoes: A Family Tradition

tomato 1

I love this time of year. All the tomatoes are ripe and everyone has too many of them. I’m very fortunate that someone always passes along some tomatoes to me. This year a friend of my mothers passed along an entire bushel of tomatoes. I ended up canning around 30 jars.

tomato jar


With this basic recipe I use these jars of tomatoes to create spaghetti sauce, chili, goulash, swiss steak, vegetable soup and a few other recipes. It’s been a staple in my family for years. My mother said it’s one of those things her parents have been doing for as long as she can remember and there has never really been an exact recipe. What I am about to share is just how we happened to of made it this time.


This was the first year that kiddo had been around to witness the madness. She wasn’t able to participate as much as she did with the pickles, but she still had a good time watching the process and listening for the jars to pop.

tomato jar 2


Before starting make sure your jars are sanitized and that your lids and rings have been boiled. ( we boil ours in hot water to sanitize)

We used 3 pots. 2 for cooking and 1 for water. The pots were 12 quart pots.

Canning Tomatoes: A Family Tradition

Canning Tomatoes: A Family Tradition

Chrystal Mahan YUMeating.com
4.75 from 8 votes


  • 4 bell peppers diced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic - cut them however you like
  • 6 onions diced
  • 30 - 40 pounds of tomato approx. 1 bushel
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 2-3 bundles of green onions sliced


  • Chop your vegetables (not the tomatoes) and divide them between the 2 - 12 quart stock pots and then set aside.
  • Wash and core your tomatoes. You can choose to do all of them at once, or in bundles.
  • Grab the other stock pot and fill with water. Set on stove and bring to a boil.
  • While you are waiting for the water to boil fill your sink with cold water.
  • When your water starts to boil, turn it off.
  • Carefully place the clean, cored tomatoes in the hot water. Fill your pot but don't over stuff. You want your tomatoes to have room to breath and you don't want them to be squished.
  • Leave the tomatoes in the hot water 2-3 minutes. The skin will begin to crack.
  • Using grippers or tongs carefully remove the tomatoes from the hot water and place them in the sink of cold water.
  • Peel the skin and discard along with any bad parts of the tomato.
  • Quarter and put into the stock pot with the vegetables you diced earlier.
  • Continue this process until your stockpot of vegetables is almost full. You'll want an inch or two for boil room.
  • Don't throw away your boiling water. You will keep using it for the next pot process. Same goes for your cold water. You can leave it in your sink.
  • When your stock pot of tomatoes and vegetables is full place it on the stove and bring to a boil.
  • After it boils turn the burner down to simmer and cook tomatoes and vegetables for 30-45 minutes.
  • You will then ladle the tomato and vegetable mixture into the jars, which we place on a towel on our counter. Add the lid and then the ring.
  • Leave about 1 inch between the jars so they have cooling/breathing room.
  • The heat inside the jars from the hot contents will create your vacuum pressure to seal the lids.
  • Enjoy the popping sound which will begin in a few hours.
  • Repeat this process for your 2nd stock pot of vegetables and remaining tomatoes.
  • Once lids have popped store in a cupboard or cool basement.


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    1. Before I had the space or resources to do it, I would by the tomatoes (and vegetables) that were marked for quick sale and just do a couple of jars at a time. I’ll save money and stay healthy any way that I can! Thank you for stopping by.

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for this post! Someone recently gave us a bunch of tomatoes and I’m the only one in the house who eats them uncooked so I was thinking about canning them, but have never done it before. Your recipe is right on time!

    1. It sounds a lot harder than it really is. I do it even when I see the grocer has placed that days tomatoes on quick sale!

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve never canned before, but I just may have to give it a shot next year with your recipe. Especially since it looks so easy! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi there- This is a Tickle My Tastebuds feature on my blog on Tuesday! Please share on social media if you get a chance! Can’t wait to “study” this process! laura

  4. I have very distinct memories of my parents canning tomatoes when I was a kid, but I guess they must have thought it was too much work or something, because out of no where they just stopped – never to start again 🙂

  5. 3 stars
    I love this article! I love tomatoes, I remember my spouse’s cousins wife telling me how her mom would do this every harvest (the mom is from Italy). I would drool at the thought, I love red sauce and everything with tomatoes!

  6. I’ve never canned tomatoes before and come to think about it, I am not too sure if any member of my family does either. However, after reading this post, I’d love to give it a try.

  7. This looks like a great dish. I have always wanted to learn how to can tomatoes so I appreciate the how to. It looks simple too and the sauce looks amazing.

  8. 5 stars
    I love the idea of canning vegetables, especially tomatoes. They’re a good base for all kinds of recipes, and it saves a ton of money to harvest home grown tomatoes rather than buying canned tomatoes at the store.

  9. 5 stars
    I too can tomatoes – they taste delicious in the winter. I like your recipe with the peppers, garlic, and onions. I usually add nothing to my tomatoes – I will make some using your recipe

  10. I’ve heard it’s so much work to can. But with beautiful tomatoes like these, I can see why folks do it!

    1. It’s really not when you think about it. We spend half a day doing it, sure. But then it saves me more time in the long run. No trips to the grocery store for sauces. No long food prep for items that contain the sauces. You can do a small batch in an hour.

  11. We have a lot of tomatoes right now (they’re slowly ripening, and I’m finding myself picking one or two each day.) Today I made salsa for the first time. I’ve never attempted canning tomatoes!

  12. 5 stars
    This is really a smart thing to do. You will have this great sauce all winter long to use in a variety of different dishes. The recipe looks simple enough to do also.

    1. I still have a few jars downstairs from last years crop. I am sure I can about 50 jars or more. We give a lot a way in gift baskets and my mom takes some since she usually helps.

  13. 5 stars
    I tried to can some peach jelly but it went awful I think I didn’t sanitized/sterilized the jars well my jelly was all moldy. Do you freeze the tomatoes sauce or how long does it take for them to expire/spoil?

    1. You can freeze it. But since I freeze so much already, canning is perfect for me because I have shelves downstairs in the basement for it. It was either your jars were not clean or your lids did not seal. Most likely, lids did not seal. Sorry that happened to you.

  14. I’ve never tried canning but it’s something I would actually love to try. We love sauces so I think this would be such a great idea!

  15. I haven’t tried canning but hear great things from those who do. Fresh flavor, great smells, so I’m thinking I need to start!

    1. You really should! You don’t have to do 50 or so jars like we do. You can do small batches! In our big pot we can boil 4 jars at a time. Maybe thats where you can start.

  16. I have never done canning before, but just this morning I was doing a little research about canning. I think I might have to do some tomatoes now too.

    1. Oh, I do hope you give it a try. It’s so simple and not too expensive to get started. I do not have a pressure canner. I do it all by water boil method. I know thrift shops have cans/jars and you can get the lids now at places like Dollar General. I just love it because even sitting down in the basement for months the food still tastes fresh.

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